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Dalama Adventures Tale of two corporate types ditching their jobs and traveling the world for 14 months... check out all photos, blogs & interesting tid bits at http://www.dalama.net

Strange, Mysterious Coastline

PERU | Saturday, 17 November 2007 | Views [935]

Our schedule in Peru is dictated now by our set date for our Inca Trail permits. We needed to book our trek a month in advance, and even an month in advance (during low season), the dates were extremely limited. Only 500 people including guides and porters are allowed on the Inca Trail each day, and our permit was approved for November 22nd... Thanksgiving.

We only have five days left before we head out, and several of these days we need to spend acclimating at a higher altitude to successfully ready ourselves for the trek. So we decide to bus it direct to Cusco from Lima, to allow ourselves time to recover form the colds we caught in Ecuador and are still trying to rid ourselves of. We took the recommendation of our friend Sally from Sydney, to buy the first class tickets on busses in Peru, as bus service is astoundingly better the more you pay in South America. So for $56 per person we get a "cama" reclining seat, meal service, fluffy blanket and pillow, along with the assurance of a brand name "Cruz del Sur," giving us piece of mind that the bus is reliable. We're now willing to pay more for the temporary psychological safety net. We are videotaped by gun bearing security men as we board the bus. We are told by other travelers that this is common practice in Peru. They video tape everyone boarding, and video tape you in your seat, leaving the tape at the bus terminal, so that if the bus is hijacked and people go missing, they have records of who was on the bus, where each person is from, for the search and rescue effort. So reassuring.

We lie back in our plush seats that are far superior than those on first class on the airlines, and feel guilty as other fellow backpackers peer into the open doorway into our separate sleeper cabin, on the way upstairs to their cheap seats. We swore we wouldn't do anymore overnight busses, but this one can't be avoided, as it's a 20 hour ride from Lima to Cusco. The ride allows us to see some really unique landscape. We travel the coast south to Ica, the town that was devastated by the recent earthquake this year. The landscape here is desert like, long stretches of golden sand for as far as we can see, and big open ocean everywhere. It's a desolate ghost town with small villages every so often. I'm not sure how may people survive and eek out a living in these areas, there's no fertile ground for farming crops or raising animals. Perhaps they just fish and live in their little mud-brick houses. It's a hard life they must live, with absolutely nothing but brick walls around them, some lucky enough to have a roof over their heads.

We turn inland at Nasca and the soft, dune beach scape turns to hard terra. The altitude increases steadily and we begin to wind our way through the hills. We don't get to stop off to see the all famous Nasca Lines - the World Heritage site that from the sky is supposed to depict over 800 lines, 300 geoglyphs of figures, animals and plants. It would require us to take a day stop off and an expensive flight over the area just to see the site.

Winding through the Andes, we wonder how anyone ever discovered Machu Picchu. Twenty hours from Lima, snaking through steep, rugged and unforgiving altitudes along narrow roads, clinging to the mountainside like garland on a Christmas tree, our bus ploughs forward. It's a feat in itself just to get ourselves there. To think that people have survived and thrived in these mountains is an amazing accomplishment... actually a brilliant culture of scientists, architects, mathematicians... a whole culture and history of living conquered and destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors. Not much can grow at these altitudes, and the cold, harsh climate, but people here are living in mud-brick homes, raising their lamas and alpacas and farming their quinoa, yucca and potatoes to trade in town at the markets. Our bus arrives two and a half hours late into Cusco... a town that sprawls up the steep mountainside slopes of the valley. Our hostel has a free taxi service, and our driver has sat patiently awaiting the arrival of our bus. We have a safe transfer to Casa Elena and are met by the friendliest hotel staff, Jorge, who promptly delivers us mate de coca to our room on a silver platter to help us ward off the potential for altitude sickness. We down our tea, numb our minds and fall asleep.

Tags: On the Road

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